Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RAVES!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 23/09/16

Stepping Out Again

I went for a walk this afternoon.

This would not be worth remarking upon in itself were it not for the context; namely, my lousy state of health this year to date. In fact, I can't remember whether I've beaten the bounds of my own lovely manor in any way at all in 2016. I suspect not, because - apart from the weather side of things - my time this year prior to my precipitous fall into serious invalidity had been taken up by the Great Winter Project™. This, of course, has also fallen by the wayside for the time being; the landing and stairs will have to wait until next year now, I suspect.

I have been getting stronger as the time since my surgery has extended, but until today the most I had managed was to go from here to the post-box on Offa Street: or from by the Clinic up the steps to Dyke Street and on down Edwards Avenue and back on down to my own road; or down to the Pharmacy on High Street (whilst getting the bus back up; there's a difference between being adventurous and being bloody stupid, after all).

Sitting here shortly after lunch, with it being a pleasant-looking afternoon, I realised that neither of the two alternative activities which immediately presented themselves to me - cleaning the cooker or trying to forge forward with the latest jigsaw (which is proving to be a proper sod, for reasons I might explain if I ever finish it) - appealed very much.

Going around The Pool for a walk naturally posed a risk; but it was one I was willing to take because I knew that I was going to have to test myself over greater distances if I was to make - or at the very least feel that I was making - any real progress at all.

So it was on with the coat and - taking my trusty, slightly-too-short walking-stick firmly in hand - I set out towards Pool Road. The upward gradient is gentle enough, but I made myself stop every now and then (unlike my previous state, where I would have had to stop to gather myself again), either to peek into the hedgerow on the right-hand side, or to gaze over at Offa's Dyke, or to look at the gorse bushes further up; all the time realising that an entire spring and summer had completely passed me by. Rendered pensive by the thought, I reached the houses at Mount Zion in a pondering mood.

(Oh, here's a map for you to follow).

Map of a walk route

I had originally intended simply to turn left up Waterside Way and head towards Mount Pleasant. But a spark of devilment fired up in me, and I decided that I would after all go round the far side of The Pool. So, crossing the road and going through the gate, I made my way along the slightly overgrown path on the Pool's northern side, past the ruined bandstand to the western bank. I paused at the section of the path which has a low stone wall on one side to marvel once again at the thought that that wall once marked the westernmost extent of the Pool before it was reduced in size about twenty years ago.

I got to the concrete jetty which now juts out into the water and stood there for a moment or two watching the birds on the surface. I couldn't tell you what birds they were, for not only is ornithology not one of my strong points, but one of the manifestations of my condition since the start of the year is that bright light frequently manifests itself as a glaring effect which causes detail to become indistinct (I suspect that it may be a symptom of temporary dehydration caused by the strong diuretics I'm still having to take; I'm seeing my consultant in a week or so, and will ask him if I can reduce the dosage a bit).

I decided to go back a few yards and rest on the seat which stands at the beginning of the jetty. I sat there for a few minutes taking in the views, such as they were with a small van obscuring my view of the Pool and gorse bushes blocking any clear view of the Bottle Chimney, before setting off round the southern shore to the gate on Waterside Way.

Turning right, I made my way to by Mount Pleasant Farm, hoping to see the delightful old bloke who lives there. But there was no sign of him, and I then had another decision to make: did I go straight down Brake Road (or 'Lloyd's Hill', as we old yokels still call it), or cross the road and head over the top of the Wonder Bank? Feeling bold, I headed up the old track onto the bank - a track which had last seen vehicular traffic in the 1980s when Alfie Green's old wrecks of trucks had carted slurry from the Steelworks up to the two deep lagoons of muck which had squatted like black, oozy demons further along the bank - and reached the breach in the chicken-wire fence which stands on the left-hand side of the pathway.

Dodging through the hole, I made my way along the very uneven and more than somewhat overgrown trail which led me to the eastern tip of the bank. I stood there for a few minutes taking in the breathtaking view from that vantage point, encompassing a distant panorama which ranged from Hope Mountain round across the Cheshire Plain and down to The Wrekin. I then made my way slowly down the bank to the path which leads through what we used to call 'The Scraps' and back home. I had been gone just a touch over an hour.

And I feel OK really, although previous experience leads me to expect a reaction tomorrow. But at least that'll give me an excuse not to clean the cooker, and the Hans Andersen jigsaw can go and chase my Aunt Fanny round the gasworks.

It's a pathetically small sense of achievement, I know. But perhaps now I really am starting to get somewhere. Sigh! They'll be wanting me back in work next...